Watch CBS News

How Donovan Harmel is mentoring the Twin Cities LGBTQ+ community through sobriety

Minneapolis man guides LGBTQ+ community members through sobriety
Minneapolis man guides LGBTQ+ community members through sobriety 02:54

MINNEAPOLIS — According to the Department of Health, lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults are more likely than straight adults to use substances and experience mental health issues.

WCCO sat down with an Uptown Minneapolis man who knows the struggle firsthand. 

Donovan Harmel, 78, grew up on a farm in Rugby, North Dakota.

"Being gay, I don't even think that was term that was used at the time. It wasn't frowned on as much as it was like it didn't exist, he said.

When Harmel made his way to the Twin Cities, addiction followed him.

"I panhandled, I lived on the street, stuff like that," he recalled.

Health department data shows people in the LGBTQ+ community have a higher chance of suffering from substance use.

"People, a lot of people aren't accepted by the community so they don't accept themselves. They are constantly playing a part of a world that really isn't theirs," said Harmel.

Harmel says he stopped drinking 47 years ago and eventually started feeling free to be himself.

He even walked in one of the first Pride parades.

"There were probably a couple dozen of us who walked down Nicollet," he said.

Since then, he has watched the LGBTQ+ community and the sober community, grow. And he is part of that growth. When Minneapolis hosted the AA convention, he hosted the LGBTQ+ forum. 

He also supports the sober pride movement that is now part of Twin Cities Pride and mentors people through sobriety. Harmel says he believes both communities are in a stronger place.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.